The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros

The Remember Balloons

Jessie Oliveros, Author

Dana Wulfekotte, Illustrator

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Aug. 28, 2018

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes: Aging grandparent, Memory, Family relationships, Balloons

Opening: I have lots and lots of balloons, way more than my little brother. “This one’s my favorite,” I tell him, pointing to the balloon filled with my last birthday party.

Publisher Synopsis:

James has a lot of balloons. They’re where he keeps his favorite memories of birthday parties, eating cake with chocolate frosting and riding a pony.

Grandpa has lived a long life and has the most balloons. Birthdays and long-ago summers, his wedding day, the birth of children and grandchildren, his favorite dog and special camping trips — Grandpa’s balloons hold so many great stories. James love to hear them all.

When Grandpa’s balloons start drifting away, so does his memory. James want to catch the balloons, but he can’t.  James now has to be the one share stories — to share his balloons with Grandpa.

Why I like this book:

What a treasure! Jessie Oliveros’ tackles the timely and difficult topic of memory loss in a sensitive way so that children will easily understand. With many seniors living older to see great- and great-great grandchildren, this is an important book for families to remember. This book is a treasure! A moving story about a girl trying to make sense of her grandmother’s memory loss.

Oliveros’ story is so beautifully written. We tend to hold our memories in things, and for James and his grandfather it is balloons. The balloon metaphor is ideal for children, because balloons hold many joyful memories.

Dana Wulfekotte’s black and white illustrations with splashes of color are perfect for this story. Children will see the racial diversity in the family, which the illustrator weaves into his illustrations. He also uses a lot of white space — space to breathe and collect your thoughts as you study each and every page.

Resources: The book alone is a great resource to talk with your children about aging, memory loss and family history. Encourage your children to interview their grandparents and journal family stories. Parents may want to check out the National Institute on Aging for additional information to help children understand Alzheimer’s.

Jessie Oliveros grew up watching Kansas sunsets. Her childhood balloon is sunflower yellow and filled with memories of chasing tornadoes, romping through the woods and fishing with her grandpa. After a fulfilling career as a registered nurse, Jessie hung up her stethoscope to grow children and stories. These days you can find her in the Texas hill country with her husband and their four kids. You can visit Jessie Oliveros at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. 

*Reviewed from a library copy.

My New Granny

My New Granny184520174My New Granny

Elisabeth Steinkellner, Author

Michael Roher, Illustrator

Connie Straddling Morby, Translation

Sky Pony Press, Fiction, September 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 4-8

Themes:  Grandmother, Aging, Dementia, Family, Love, Acceptance

Opening/SynopsisMy old Granny used to make a fuss about my hairdo.  “Fini, what have you done to your beautiful hair again?”  she sighed and shook her head, not understanding.”  Fini’s Granny used to comment on her strange hair styles, help her feed the ducks in the park and cooked exotic meals from the strange places she visited.  Fini’s Granny has changed.  She likes her unusual hairdo, eats the bread crumbs instead of feeding them to the ducks and moves into Fini’s house.  Fini is puzzled by Granny’s strange behavior and isn’t sure how she feels about the changes.  Granny used to take care of her, now she and her family have to help Granny.

Why I like this book:  Elisabeth Steinkellner has written a touching and empathetic story about an aging grandparent who is suffering from dementia.  She realistically captures Fini’s confusion about the changes that occur when her Granny is diagnosed with dementia.  But Fini learns to love and accept the changes of her new Granny.   With the growing number of older adults affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, this is a helpful resource for children.  The author is from Austria and the book has been translated into English by Connie Straddling Morby.

Michael Roher’s illustrations have  an Austrian flavor.  His technique is unusual and he offered to share his process.  “I used colored ink (fine-pen and marker) as well as red and brown pencils and pastels,” says Roher.  “For some surfaces I used a monoprint-technique to create interesting structures.  I used a roll to apply the color (water-soluble color for linoleum-prints) on the paper, cut out the pieces I needed and glued them onto my pictures.”  His illustrations are unique, warm and show compassion among the characters.

Resources:  Parents may want to check out the Kids and Teen page of the Alzheimer’s Association and a post from the Carolina Parent blog about  Talking to Kids About Aging Grandparents.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work. 

 

Grandpa Green – Perfect Picture Book

Lane Smith, Author and Illustrator

Roaring Brook Press, May 2011, Fiction

Suitable for:  Ages 5 ad Up

Themes: Aging Grandparent, Memory, Family History, Art

Opening:  “He was born a really long time ago, before computers or cell phones or television.  He grew up on a farm with pigs and corn and carrots…and eggs.  In fourth grade he got chicken pox.  He had to stay home from school  So he read stories about secret gardens and wizards and a  little engine that could.”   A boy takes a walk through a beautiful green topiary garden his great-grandfather  has pruned and shaped into wonderful artistic memories of his life.  Grandpa Green is aging and his memory fading.  But not when he enters his garden; it remembers for him.

Why I like this book:  Wow!  Purchasing this book is like owning a wonderful treasure.  It will certainly become a classic.  The book explores aging, memory, the bonds of family history, and love.  It is a powerful book that parents will want to share with their children, especially if there are aging grandparents.  There is so much detail in Smith’s enchanting artwork.   Activities:  Use this book to talk with your children about aging and family history.  Encourage your children to interview their grandparents  and journal family stories.  Introduce your children to horticulture.  Visit a greenhouse, a botanical garden, an arboretum or topiary      garden in your community.  For more books with resources please visit Perfect Picture Books.

The following Grandpa Green book trailer is designed by David Taylor Design.

Grandpa Green